The sun steadies itself high in the sky, overlooking a still plaza thick with dust from the decaying flesh of this ancient city. What once was grey and glass, nature in its unrelenting and unwavering mission to take back all that mankind had stolen from it, has left only rust and jagged teeth. At the far end of this exhausted plaza stands a tall doorway, under the shelter of a grim smile of glass. From this doorway emerges something alien to this setting, something alive and unbroken and it’s not alone, it is flanked by two others equally alien to the rotting metropolis around them.
The first to come into view is clad in tight-fitting attire with protective armour fitted in strategic locations. One can tell from the fit that the wearer is female. The cloth is dark grey, the armoured sections are black. From her shoulders falls a cloak bearing the crest of Dead Orbit in light grey and black. Her face is covered by a mask that gives nothing of her features away. On each thigh rests a sheathed revolver and across her back an intimidating rifle.
Another is clad in full armour, it looks heavy and hard-wearing and yet it’s wearer moves with ease through the doorway whilst carrying a shotgun in his hands and a rocket launcher across his back.
The last of the three carries a revolver and an SMG, both grey in colour and obviously new, wearing a golden robe that seemingly shimmers as he moves. He stops a few paces behind the woman, awaiting word from his leader.
The woman with the flowing cloak takes in the scenery and groans.
‘Well great, we just had to get the worst drop off location on the entire map didn’t we?’
The smallest of the three in his golden robes interjects, ‘I’m sure we can make it work Sir.’
The woman tilts her head to the side and sighs, ‘Listen here Dinnerbell. Firstly, the day I need to be encouraged by a rookie is the day I’m feeble and old and maybe not even then. Secondly, I’m not a Sir, so just call me by my name and drop the formalities.’
Dinnerbell takes a moment, ‘Yes Sir, I mean yes fireteam leader Lyanna.’
Lyanna at this point loses patience with the recent addition to her team and turns to the male in the deep blue and golden armour, ‘Screwloose, scout on ahead to see what we have to work with. Dinnerbell will await his signal and then follow. I’ll cover the rear. Move.’
With that the team steadily move along the outside of the plaza, sticking to the outer wall so as not to be caught in the open by whatever is waiting out there for them, their movements are that of a well-oiled machine, never breaking formation. They know that a single false move can spell death out here in the wild. After what feels like an eternity of silence between the fireteam and the decaying city comes the unmistakable sound of an explosion in the distance followed by a rumbling yawn as the foundations of an aged spire give way.
‘Sounds like someone’s having fun over there. What do you say to us having a little peek, eh?’
The six-foot three Exo named Screwloose replies instantly to Lyanna, ‘Whatever you say boss.’
Dinnerbell watches the two of them with disbelief as he struggles to prepare himself for the prospect of open combat.
The three look down from a rooftop on an identical plaza to the one at their drop off location.
‘Wow, they didn’t even make it out of the plaza. Maybe we got lucky after all’ suggests Lyanna as she observes the blast holes scattered around. ‘Anyone see any movement?’ she asks as they take in the sight.
‘Nothing on the right Si… Lyanna.’ Dinnerbells miss-hap is unnoticed by Lyanna as she scans the rest of the rooftops for any snipers through her own scope.
Screwloose catches a glimpse of something in a second floor window to the left. ‘Left building, second floor. Care to check that out boss?’
Lyanna, already noticing what the Exo has mentioned, locks her sniper rifle – affectionately named Shocking Surprise – onto the window in question. Screwloose scans the surrounding area so they aren’t taken out by another sniper perched on one of the other crumbling spires that dominate the surrounding skyline. Dinnerbell covers the stairs behind them just in case anyone or anything tries to sneak up on them. To Dinnerbell everything happens in a blink of an eye. Complete silence one moment turns to the roar of Lyannas Sniper Rifle that is immediately joined by the noise of gunshots all around them.
Lyanna has hit her target with little difficulty but the chain reaction it sets off no one could have foreseen. It seems as though they are being shot at from five directions.
Lyanna mutters to herself, ‘They set up an ambush…all those explosions were set off just to lure us in’.
The bullets from the shooters hit the small ledge they’re using as cover – luckily no shots are being fired from above otherwise they’d have been taken out in an instant. Lyanna and Screwloose quickly back away from the ledge and drag a paralyzed Dinnerbell into the stairwell
‘Oi rookie! get your head in the game, now’s not the time to freeze up on us. We’ve got five shooters out there who are aiming only for us. We all need to focus if we’re going to get out of this’.
Lyanna is holding Dinnerbells’ face mere inches from her own as she shouts at him. It seems to do the trick as Dinnerbell snaps out of his stupor and nods in Lyannas direction. Screwloose needed no such pep talk, he was already securing the stairwell and closing the roof access door. The gunshots cease shortly after the team ducks back into the stairwell but that won’t last. The enemy knows where they are and it is only a matter of time until they become bold enough to try to flush them out, they have them out numbered and out gunned.
Lyanna takes a knee and begins to direct her team.
‘Right, we’ve really walked into some trouble here, we’ve got five more combatants out there from what I could make out, they’ve got nearly all the exits of this building locked down. Fortunately when they set off those explosives and dropped that building it fell close the west side exit, we can use it as cover and punch our way out of here. You two ready?’
Screwloose simply nods and starts to head for the stairs down,
Dinnerbell pauses and looks at Lyanna for a few moments but then falls in behind Screwloose without a word.
As the fireteam make their way down the rusted stairwell they steel themselves for the fight to come. Dinnerbells’ hands are shaking from the adrenaline but both Lyanna and Screwloose are more than ready. The three of them remain silent until they come to the exit. Screwloose slowly opens the door and takes a look, nothing stirs as the door screeches open. A good or a bad sign none of them know.
The building had indeed fallen close to the exit – it was a mere three metre dash from the door to the debris. Lyanna spots a possible sniper nest and turns to Screwloose,
‘Right, here’s the plan. You’re going to move out and get to cover first, then I want you to use your rocket launcher on that building to the left – it’ll take away a possible sniper nest and also give the enemy a bit of a shock. As soon as I hear the rocket go off me and Dinnerbell are going to be right behind you. We’re then going to follow the fallen building to the alley. Right, on the count of three, ready Screwloose?’
Screwloose gives Lyanna a thumbs up and stands ready by the exit.
‘”One, two, three, GO’.
On ‘GO’, Screwloose slips out of the exit faster than any of the fabled wild life the world used to support. Before the enemy has chance to fire off a single round he’s put a rocket in the side of the left building. The rocket tears the building down with far more efficiency than the explosives the enemy used to lure them in with. The outer walls go flying in all directions whilst the frame bends and buckles from the heat of the explosion and the sheer weight of the upper floors. Before the first piece of debris has hit the ground both Lyanna and Dinnerbell have dashed out of the exit and are a few feet behind Screwloose along the cover provided by the fallen building.
As the three of them round the corner and duck into the alley something catches Lyannas eye. Screwloose stills, aware also. Something metallic and shiny was present in an alley way which was made up of rusted pipes and crumbling walls.
They duck just in time to avoid a barrage of gunfire. As she hits the ground, Lyanna draws her revolvers ‘…With Good Intentions’ and ‘Serpents Kiss’ and puts four shots into the enemy combatant before he can reload his pulse rifle. He goes down in a silent spray of crimson. As the two of them pick themselves up off the ground they turn to see Dinnerbell sitting with his back against the wall, he’s taken shots to his legs.
As Lyanna and Screwloose move towards Dinnerbell they notice that he is still breathing but that it is impossible for him to move and they don’t have time to patch him up and move him themselves. He looks up at them from the floor and manages to speak through the delirium
‘Huh, I guess that’s what a gunshot feels like. Not as bad as I thought.’
All around them the enemy is moving in on their position, the only thing they can do is reload their guns and wait to make their final stand.
The enemy, sure of victory, come pouring into the alley firing on the fireteam with little interest in ammo preservation. Lyanna dispatches one with her revolvers almost instantly while Screwloose charges at another and takes him down with his Shotgun named ‘Rhetorical Question’.
Whilst Lyanna and Screwloose are in the firefight, a gravely wounded Dinnerbell remains conscious but in pain. As numbness travels up his body from his feet a sense of peace takes hold within his mind and everything appears motionless and calm, that is until a pebble bounces off his helmet and causes him to stir. As he looks up bitterly in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the cruel being that tore him away from his own little world he notices two figures looking down on the alley from the ledges above. In his current state it takes him awhile to piece together what these figures are. Once he does however he almost instinctively raises his arms and lines up a palm on each, with the last of his strength he conjures a solar flare in each hand – a gift bestowed unto him from the traveler itself – he unleashes the flares at the enemy and lands a direct hit on each. They are sent hurtling into the air and are torn asunder.
Neither Lyanna nor Screwloose witness Dinnerbell cast the solar flares but they hear the screeches of pain after they made contact.
Lyanna and Screwloose move to Dinnerbells side and just before his mind goes dark Lyanna knocks on his helmet and asks ‘You still with us rookie?’
Dinnerbell once again being denied the peaceful world he so craves nods his head with a frustrated grunt. Lyanna, seemingly amused by this, has one final thing to say.
‘”Well how about that, you’re plus on your kill death ratio. How does it feel?’
Dinnerbell manages a short laugh.
‘Feels great Sir.’
An alarm rings and an automated voice declares the end of this Faction Wars match and announces that the fireteam from Dead Orbit are the winners with two members active and one member wounded. The voice counts down to zero and then the world turns to black for our fireteam.